What Should I Do If I Get Arrested in Travis County?

First of all, keep calm and stay quiet. Remain on your best behavior. No amount of begging, pleading, crying, screaming, verbally abusive language, or reckoning with the arresting officer will change his mind and cause him to “unarrest” you. Do not ask the officer to drive you home, let you walk home, or let you call someone to pick you up. Your words can later be used in court to suggest only an intoxicated person would make these requests because you aren’t denying the accusation of being drunk.  If the officer believes he has probable cause to arrest you, you are going to jail, period.

Only answer identifying questions (address, driver’s license number, etc.). DO NOT agree to submit to a breath or blood specimen unless you have not consumed any alcohol or drugs and you know we will get a clean report. A refusal may result in a lengthier driver’s license suspension period but it is always best not to provide the State with evidence against you. They may get a warrant to draw your blood over your refusal, but it’s best not to voluntarily give a specimen because that waives our unlawful search arguments.  Be polite but firm. You can say something like, “I respectfully decline to submit a specimen and would like to call my attorney, Jamie Balagia, right now.”

Remember that you are on camera and that the best way to fight your case may be to go to trial.  A jury will see the video and will likely base a large part of its decision on the video evidence. The prosecutors are likely to watch the video of your arrest before making a plea offer. They will absolutely watch it before picking a jury. Plan ahead so that you don’t react in an inappropriate manner. Continue to be compliant and keep a low profile throughout the booking process and while in jail.  Don’t do anything to make yourself stand out and be remembered as a drunk.

No matter what the arresting officer tells you, you are likely to be in jail for at least 10 to 12 hours or more before your release. Contrary to what many officers tell arrestees, you will not see the magistrate judge immediately. Just like any other large governmental institution, everything at the Travis County Jail tends to move at a glacial pace. And your case is normally handled in the order that your arrest was made, as in, first come first served. When you enter the holding cell and see 75 other people that were arrested before you, expect an extended wait before you are released.

When you are initially being arrested or when you arrive at the jail, call us or have a friend or family member call immediately. Put our number in your phone and write it down and keep it in your wallet or purse: (512) 278-0935 or (210) DWI-DUDE. We have an attorney on call for jail release services 24/7/365.  (Our San Antonio office number is 210-394-3833 for South Texas arrests.)

Once the officer who arrested you has turned in his “probable cause affidavit,” we will get to work immediately on securing a personal bond for your release. Keep in mind that for misdemeanor charges, the officer has 24 hours to submit his affidavit and for felonies, 48 hours. They do not usually take anywhere near the maximum amount of time to turn in the paperwork, and your polite, calm attitude with the arresting officer will often insure that he or she submits his affidavit in a timely manner. Nothing can be done by anyone to secure your release prior to the officer submitting their affidavit. We will call the magistrate’s office and ask for a heads up when the affidavit has arrived and/or check periodically to see if the affidavit has been submitted.

When the affidavit is submitted, the magistrate will set your bond. We will then visit you in jail to fill out a personal bond form, or, if the Pretrial Services officer has already interviewed you, we will pick up their bond form and head straight to the magistrate’s office. We will ask the magistrate judge to sign off on a personal bond. In most circumstances, we are able to persuade the magistrate to approve a personal bond. Generally, a magistrate will sign off on a personal bond however there are circumstances that make approval more difficult; serious and violent offenses, repeat offenders, out of state residents and probationers are likely to be denied personal bonds by Pretrial Services. A magistrate is more likely to sign off if an attorney presents the bond.

A personal bond means that you are released from jail on your own “personal recognizance” and are not required to pay the actual bond, which can be quite high, depending on the charge(s). For example, for a first-time DWI in Travis County, the bond will typically range from $2000 to $6,000. Multiple charges mean multiple bonds. You will only have to pay a processing or convenience fee to Pretrial Services after your release in the amount of $40 or three percent of the bond amount if an ignition interlock device (IID) is required as a condition of your release.

As soon as we have the personal bond signed, we will submit it to the jail’s bonding desk. From there it is up to the jail to process the bond and release you, which takes, on average, 2-6 hours. This has to do with, again, the glacially-paced inner-workings of the jail. Staff shift changes and meal time breaks slow the jail’s release process down, as does a higher number of inmates than usual. On occasion we have seen an individual released within an hour after we submit the bond. If six hours has passed and the individual has not been released, we will call to follow up with the jail and try to find out what the delay is.

The advantages to having us secure a personal bond for your release are as follows:

First, you will, in almost every case, get out faster. You may be approved for a personal bond through Pretrial Services, but that usually takes longer, often many hours longer—and in a few cases we’ve seen, days longer. If you get a bond approved through Pretrial Services, you will have to wait to be magistrated, which means you are taken into a little courtroom in the jail and told what the charge is against you, what your rights are, and how much your bond has been set at. We take over for Pretrial Services and expedite the process. We can waive your appearance before a Magistrate so you can get out faster. Also, when an attorney signs off on your bond, Pretrial Services’ approval is not required. Pretrial Services has specific criteria that you have to meet in order for them to approve you for a personal bond.

Second, getting a personal bond means you do not have to be on the hook with a bail bondsman. Bondsmen will require you pay at least 10% of the bond amount and you will be required to check in with them periodically during the entire life of your case. The money you pay them for your release will not be refunded, regardless of the outcome of your case. Another way to bail out of jail is by having a friend or family member put up a cash bond, meaning they provide the entire amount of the bond in cash to secure your release. In that case, the money will be refunded at the end of your case (minus an administrative fee), but keep in mind that the bond is usually going to be several thousands of dollars.

Third, the fee we charge for our jail release service is applied towards the fee for our representation of you in the defense of the charge(s) against you. This gives you more bang for your buck when we work out a Personal Bond on your behalf.

Once you are released from jail, contact us immediately to set up a time for your free consultation so we can get to work fighting your case.

 

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